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Bleed for Words

Blood Cells LargeThere’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

People have often said to me, “I don’t know how you do what you do.” Which usually amazes me because I love what I do. But I am not in denial–while writing does not require backbreaking physical labor, it is nonetheless a serious labor of love.

The greatest difficulty is actually saying what you mean. A brilliant writing teacher of mine, Mr. Don Delo, once told us that the more words you use the farther away from your meaning you get. And it’s true. In almost every writing intensive course I’ve taken, all advise brevity–to use the fewest words possible to fully express meaning. That’s stressful!

On top of committing yourself to speak–a scary prospect in and of itself–a writer must figure out what needs to be said, then convey meaning in a way that others will understand. Enters the knife…

Accessing the life blood of content to extract meaning… it’s violent, painful. The act of writing is the process of creation and mutilation, a cycle of building and destroying until the body of work is stripped down to the bones and sinew.  “There’s nothing to it” is truly ironic and yet, there really isn’t. It merely requires dedication to rebirth. A process we go through everyday, whether conscious of it or not. You are not who you were yesterday, and the words will not mean the same thing tomorrow.

Bloodletting was considered therapeutic until the 19th Century… perhaps we’ve lost our way. Open a vein today and tell me about the experience.

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